January 21, 2018
Origin : Dominican Republic
Format : Panetela
Size : 6″ x 38 ring gauge (152 mm x 15.08 mm)
Ring Gauge : 38
Origin : Dominican Republic
Price : ~€20.90 – $25.50 each
Draw : [rating:4/6]
Burn : [rating:4/6]
Flavour : [rating:6/6]
Aroma : [rating:6/6]
strength : [rating:3/6]
The Davidoff 702 Series Signature No 2 – with the tri-Cuban-seed 702 Ecuadorian wrapper updating Davidoff’s Classic (now Signature) No 2 – offers a unique, really perfect, sweet and multi-dimensional flavour experience, tho it is somewhat fast-burning and perhaps a bit too mild given the luxe price.
Cigar history fans will recognise this long panetela vitola, as the exact preferred cigar shape & size of both Zino Davidoff himself, and Cuba’s Comandante Fidel Castro, two men who worked together for 3 decades.
Zino no doubt told successful revolutionary Fidel about how, as a boy working in his father’s Geneva, Switzerland cigar shop, young Zino had filled the tobacco requests of another successful revolutionary, a radical Russian exile named Vladimir Lenin.
Zino’s favourite Classic No 2 – recently renamed the Signature No 2 – has long been the Davidoff rival to Fidel’s identically-sized favourite, which Cohiba calls the Corona Especial, pictured in the second photo here alongside this new Davidoff No 2 with its dark and sweet 702 Ecuadorian wrapper. It’s natural to compare these identically-sized premium cigars, and so I’ll do so below.
There is much that is great about this new dark-wrapper Davidoff offering, starting with the moment you pick up the cold cigar and bring it near your nose. There is an immediate lovely sweet aroma promising great things ahead, and that wonderful quality of aroma stays right through the smoke, as feminine opinion in the house confirmed to me.
With just the right extra oiliness and firmness to the touch, and with its black-ish good looks, it is a joy in the hand as one begins to prepare this pigtail-cap Davidoff for a first puff. Pre-draw is sweet and a bit leathery, tho I was later pleasantly surprised to find that there was no excessive leather taste during the smoke, as was my slight complaint with the Davidoff 702 Series 2000 using the same dark wrapper.
Initial puff was quite in cigar heaven. Superb flavour, sweetness amidst roasted coffee and nuts, just a delight. By contrast, the Cohiba Coronas Especiales – great cigars, certainly enough – tend to start out with quite mild and subtle flavours, especially in the first third.
One of the things I was looking for here in this Ecuadorian wrapper No 2, is what one experiences very distinctively in the regular Davidoff Classic – Signature No 2: A special ‘dimensionality’ in the cigar, where the sensations are on a couple of different spatial levels.
And very wonderfully, that was here too in this 702 No 2 Davidoff. All at the same time, one can feel a tingle high up in the nose, in the back of the palate, and on the tongue, so that your taste seems to be expanded in 3-D. This makes the cigar seem very ‘full-bodied’, even tho – especially with the ordinary Signature No 2 – it is a somewhat mild cigar. That sensation, is a major reason why every now and then I’ve picked up a No 2 Davidoff.
As the smoke proceeded with this 702 No 2, I had some minutes of a somewhat un-Davidoff-like tight draw toward the end of the 1st third, which also marked the introduction of some at first strong bitter fruit flavours. Later those flavours eased a bit, but remained and lent some sophistication to the overall sweetness.
The great virtue of this cigar was its excellent, delicious, evolving, sweet-tinged flavours. Second third was very rich, and so was the final third, at moments more of coffee or cocoa or roasted nuttiness. Toward the nub the bitterness heightened once again till it gave the ‘time to say farewell’ signal.
Had a chuckle about one aspect being the same both with this 702 No 2 Davidoff and the Cohiba Corona Especial – the varying in ash longevity. In both cigars, the ash usually didn’t hold that long in the first third – about 1.5cm – but became more solid in the 2nd third, holding over 2.5cm before dropping off. Ash was quite strikingly white from the Davidoff.
But in most ways, these two cigars are hugely different experiences. The 702 Davidoff has truly rich, Brasil-tobacco type sweet flavours that are very strong and pleasing throughout the cigar. The flavour palette in the Cohiba is certainly a pleasant one, tho much milder, more of cedar with a bit of honey and a fair amount of spice and pepper.
Somewhat significantly given the higher price of the Davidoff (€21 vs €19 for the Cohiba in my neighbourhood), the Davidoff burned much more quickly, too quickly really, so I get 40% more smoking time out of the identical-length Cohiba. Both cigars draw well, Cohiba being one Cuban marque that often has near-Davidoff construction quality.
But the Cohiba has a greatness that the Davidoff really didn’t, the Cohiba having superb Cuban cigar headiness and strength, whereas the Davidoff here – placing the new 702 wrapper on a quite mild cigar to begin with – remained a somewhat less forceful smoke.
With the Cohiba Corona Especial, after an often-very-mild first section, the latter two-thirds of the stick tend to place one quite squarely in pure Cuban cigar dreamy-thought-land. Between that and the slower burn, the Cohiba is totally satisfying despite its sometimes leisurely start, truly a world-class cigar.
With the Davidoff, however, tho I am enjoying very rich, sweet flavour throughout, I don’t quite get the cigar impact I would crave for this tariff, whilst the cigar also disappears into smoke much more quickly.
This was a contrast with my experience with the Davidoff 702 Series 2000 Corona, where I had some more Cuban-style cigar headiness with that slightly thicker stick. That cigar had a slightly excessive leathery taste for me, but given its much lower price point (€16 vs €21), I might recommend the 2000 as a better value for the experience of the 702 series sweet Ecuador wrapper.
Most other cigars in the 702 series, are thicker cigars from the stronger Aniversario line used as a base for the Ecuador wrapper, and no doubt there is some good cigar headiness to be found amongst them.
For the ‘sweet flavour’ experience on its own, I’d suggest some of the Brasil-wrapper cigars as from Balmoral Royal Maduro or CAO Brasilia, both under €10.
Despite top-class, unique aroma and flavour here in the Davidoff 702 Series No 2, in the end I am a bit hesitant about this very tasty stick, given the price point. That strongly ‘dimensional’ aspect of the flavouring, tickling you from nose to palate to tongue, is something worth experiencing, but I’d tend to suggest the regular Davidoff Signature No 2 at the lower price level (€17 vs €21) to enjoy that in a ‘purer’ form.
And though lacking the Davidoff’s rich, sweet flavours, the Cohiba Coronas Especiales, given the vivid Cuban headiness they provide, have still not been knocked off their panetela pedestal.
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